With only a two-month lockdown in place in early 2020, there is a lot UK retailers can learn from China’s post-pandemic retail strategy.
According to consulting firm McKinsey, the number of garments bought per person rose 60% between 2000 and 2014.
While fashion brands have a responsibility to make their clothes more sustainable and less throwaway, there’s undoubtedly a role shoppers can play by consuming less. It doesn’t matter how many organic t-shirts we buy; we won’t fix fashion’s footprint if we still consume at the same rate.
In fashion, few names carry such high esteem as Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel. The creator of the little black dress and the No.5 perfume that Marilyn Monroe wore to bed has had a huge influence from high end to high street and has been quoted into cliché with soundbites such as “a girl should two things: classy and fabulous.”
“Have I made you excited about sweat?” says material researcher, Alice Potts. She has.
In 2018, Potts’ graduate collection from London’s Royal College of Art gained widespread media attention and praise from industry insiders including the British Fashion Council’s ambassador for emerging talent, Sarah Mower, for its incredible athleticwear covered in crystals grown from sweat.
Despite the challenges of coronavirus to the fashion industry, attention on sustainability has remained high in recent months. Some of the biggest industry news of the pandemic has been brands addressing the unrelenting and wasteful fashion cycle and unfair treatment of supply chain workers.
Fashion brands and retailers are starting to realise the value of the “green dividend” – and coronavirus is forcing businesses to build sustainability into their resilience plans for the future.
In February, VF Corporation, owner of brands including Vans, Timberland and The North Face, became the first clothing and footwear company to launch a “green bond”, raising €500m (£466m) from what it said was “a diverse group of investors from around the world”.
Primark has announced the expansion of its Sustainable Cotton Programme to 160,000 farmers across India, Pakistan and China who will be trained in more ecologically friendly practices by the end of 2022.
Consumers will likely be pleased to be seeing more “Primark cares” labels on their clothing but its promise of “sustainable cotton” is vague.
In the heart of Siberia, the Sakha Republic is home to acres of evergreen larch trees, herds of reindeer, the indigenous Yakut people and, under its permafrost, diamonds.
Mining is one of the main industries in the region, with 95pc of Russia’s diamonds originating here, accounting for 27pc of the world’s supply.
Clothing rental has the potential to make fashion retail more sustainable and provide benefits to both consumers and brands.